UPDATED: Hosepipe ban won’t be lifted, Anglian Water confirms

ANGLIAN Water has confirmed that the hosepipe ban in force in Lincolnshire will not be lifted in the near future.

The water utility firm issued the statement this afternoon (Friday), following an earlier announcement by the Environment Agency that drought conditions had ended in 19 areas of the county - including parts of the Midlands region - following April’s record-breaking torrential rain.

The agency said that river and reservoir levels in those areas had ‘significantly’ improved, although underground - or groundwater - levels remain low.

Anglian Water takes 50 per cent of its water from groundwater sources.

And it confirmed that these remain too low for drought restrictions to be lifted in Lincolnshire or the East Midlands.

“Today’s announcement by the Environment Agency recognises the welcome effect of the recent heavy rainfall on the natural environment,” said a spokesperson for the firm.

“However, the situation in the Anglian Water region remains serious.

“While the rain has helped to refill our reservoirs, levels in the natural, groundwater aquifers remain significantly below normal.

“Water abstracted from aquifers accounts for half of all the water we supply to customers, so these groundwater stores are incredibly important sources of water.

“Some of the rain has found its way into the aquifers and some recharge has taken place. However, these underground stores are very low – in some cases historically so – after two years of well below average rainfall.

“We need to remember that the few wet weeks we have just experienced comes after two dry years and most importantly, two dry winters.

“The refill of aquifers is a natural process which largely occurs during the autumn and winter months. We are now entering the time of year when aquifer and reservoir levels typically begin to fall once more.

“Our concern is that, despite some recovery, these already low levels will deplete further over the summer. This and the possibility of a third dry winter means we need to continue to do what we can to conserve water.

“This, unfortunately, means that the hosepipe ban will not be lifted,” they added.

The 19 areas that the Environment Agency earlier said were no longer in drought included South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, parts of Gloucestershire, parts of Hampshire, most of Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Announcing the easing of the drought in those areas, Dr Paul Leinster, the Environment Agency’s chief executive, said: “Water resources across England and Wales are kept constantly under review.

“The recent record rainfall has eased pressure on water resources in some parts of England, helping levels in rivers and reservoirs to recover and providing relief to farmers, gardeners and wildlife.

“The Environment Agency will continue to keep a close eye on the situation. Low groundwater levels remain a concern across many parts of England, with many still at a similar level to those in 1976 and unlikely to return to normal levels before the winter.

“A return to a long period of dry weather would increase the risk again.”